Ricky’s Quick Picks | #001, August 17, 2019


Welcome to this weekly or fortnightly column, where I provide links and other items on skeptical topics, as well as items from other domains of interest. This weekend, Ricky the Maine Coon offers the following tidbits of coolness. Enjoy!

I’ve been going through the feeds for the Skepticality podcast, currently 30-ish episodes away from finishing a favorite show which seems to have podfaded since January of 2018. So here is, in its entirety, the music which for a good part of twelve years defined one of the first skeptical podcasts to grace the Internet…

…The Skepticality Theme Song:

There is also,…

An interview with Dr. Lynne Kelly on the ABC radio show Conversations: The Memory Whisperer.

And,

Science-Based Medicine Versus Other Ways of Knowing, by Dr. David Gorski

On the so-called Paleo Diet:

How to Really Eat Like a Hunter-Gatherer, on Scientific American

Here’s an entry on the Skeptics’ Dictionary on…

The Bias Blind-Spot

And to close out the weekend:

xkcd: Geologic Time

Ricky’s Quick Picks | Inaugural Post


Vanakkam. This is a new column on the Call, and it not only features the handsome face of Ricky the Maine Coon, but will link in further installments to a variety of pro-science sources on various topics, including but not limited to scientific claims, paranormal and pseudoscientific claims, medical controversies, in any event the full range of topics addressed in skeptical and science communication circles.

I will not address purely political or religious claims, only when politics or religion intersect with science, skepticism, or critical thinking. It is not my aim to ruffle feathers, stir the pot, or mix any masala.

Here, I will generally refrain from linking to scientifically and medically questionable sources, only doing so when that’s done in an ethical and effective manner in a way that does not benefit those sources from being linked to from this blog.

This is a roundup of some 5-10 links, presented in a way that allows a snapshot of a given claim in each entry with the best public sources online at the time of publishing. Further entries in this column on the topic will contain corrections and updates as more detailed knowledge on the topic advances and errors in the research are uncovered through peer-review, better science journalism, and replication attempts.

Do not expect any one entry to have final say on any matter, as that’s not how science and skepticism work. All conclusions are provisional, pending newer and better evidence.

This post is featured weekly or biweekly on any one of Tuesday, Thursday or Caturday from here on.

I hope to see you then!

Tf. Tk. Tts.

The Call’s Gnuz & Lynx Roundup | Mother’s Day 2016 Special


 

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 14.33.09

Good morning! Things have been busy this week, as I’m working on my touch-typing skills and studying to correct my weak points in Bengali script; the incredibly graceful but difficult conjunct letters (well, difficult for foreigner Ingreji speakers like me…). These letters combine short groups of consonants in one letter, and which join in what letter are not always apparent from the conjunct’s shape. But that’s cool, because the challenge makes it interesting and fun. I’ve created two virtual decks of flashcards, and started retrieval-practice sessions to learn by testing myself on the first such deck. So far, I’ve successfully recalled 117 letters twice, and 5 letters once, so I’ll work on recalling all four times in a row before continuing with the next deck. So, on other matters, (whispers) I’ve got a surprise for the Parental Unit™ this Sunday, while trying to get the new cat to stop snubbing her–rotten little beast! Ricky still seems reclusive, only coming out of his crypt at sundown to feast on the kibble of the living…well, at least he’s adorable even though hiding through much of the day! So, as I’m going through a disc of lectures, I bid you all to have an awesome, or at least a survivable, Sunday, and a good week ahead.

Stay brilliant!

Tf.Tk.Tts.

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A. R. Rahman: “Jiya Jale” (Dil Se) Berklee Indian Ensemble (cover)

The Call’s Gnuz & Lynx Roundup | Blogcation Tremulations


Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 19.15.52
This blog has existed since late 2008, and this posting break the latest since December of 2010. The rate of traffic on the site has varied over the years, currently at around a few dozen page-views a day, on a normal posting schedule of about one per every other day.

A fair amount, I would say.

The peak traffic for this site was in 2010, at over 40,000 additional page-views for the entire year, upwards of 100+ page-views each day. I could probably continue that if I felt inclined, but I don’t.

From late 2008 to late 2010, I was involved heavily in publishing to the point of near exhaustion and neglect of my well-being.

This, of course, was a mistake. Hence, my first blogging hiatus, after posting nearly constantly for almost two years, was undertaken, inspired by that of my late friend and former fellow blogger, the pseudonymous Skeptic Cat, whose online handle was to be quickly abandoned, his blog deleted, about a year after we met via our mutual blogging hobby.

I found that to maintain my balance and to take on new projects, I could no longer post on the site at the level I did at the start. That results in periodic blogcations.

So, what do I do with days and often weeks of time not blogging?

I’m engaged in lifelong learning, and as many of you know, a small part of that involves the study of three languages of the Indian subcontinent: Bengali; Tamil; Hindi. And mellifluous tongues they are indeed.

There are other subjects of interest; math; symbolic logic; developing better study skills; critical thinking; public speaking; conversational skills; medical myths, lies, and half-truths; learning how to think like a scientist, or perhaps like Sherlock Holmes, take your pick; physical training for health and endurance in my older years — after all, I’m in my fifties and not getting any younger.

I’m rediscovering my old hobby of drawing in another series of lessons I’m taking. There are my fractals. There is occasional practice playing virtual instruments via GarageBand.

I’m still pretty bad at that last, by the way.

I’m working on developing my writing career. Each day, I write at least one page of…stuff, about 500 words of stuff, three pages of it if I can, on absolutely anything. Even if it never gets published or posted on this or other blogs. Much if it goes into a private journal, some of it here and elsewhere online. I’ve published my first book so far, and I’m currently putting the second on hold while I deal with organizing and studying from lecture notes and assignments taken from my course collection.

I’m developing my fictional universes; plot elements; historical timelines; alien species; languages, however alien or arcane; protagonists; villains; alien gods and eldritch horrors from Outside.

Only this last week I had a bunch of really cool ideas on better using such plot elements as time travel, interstellar travel, and journeys to other regions of the multiverse in one of my settings. More on that once I develop the concepts further.

It should be evident there’s no possibility of doing all this on top of life events, maintaining my treatment plan, and just doing what needs to be done day by day. There are other things I’m engaged in as well, including ongoing personal research on logical fallacies and cognitive biases.

It’s obvious from the above that I’ve a tendency to give myself too much to do, too many projects to embark on. I’ve grown too many heads on my hydra, as it were, too many tentacles on my kraken. Maybe. I’ll grant that possibility. There’s no way to finish all of these in the short-term, and in fact, no ending of it all short of my death.

But that’s the point.

When I first began blogging on my now-defunct WordPress site Troythulu’s Log on January 15, 2008, there was little in terms of off-time activities, little to do beyond routine necessities, and blogging was a good way to channel my energies into something different, challenging, and maybe even useful.

The gaming shop that I’d been visiting for decades had closed its doors earlier that same year, giving me a lot of time at home alone when not at my old volunteer work job or out with friends, and I was still recovering from my injury from 2007.

Blogging was new, and fun, and it still is, and I met a lot of interesting people, then and now. Skeptical blogging, or as I put it, skeptophrenic blogging, was a useful, and at the time, the only other way beside gaming to channel my energies into something that I enjoyed.

Now, I’ve so much else to help me stay busy, to keep striving for…what?

Does it really matter what?

I fail to see good reason to reject or dismiss the value of striving. Striving is something we humans do. We’ve been striving since before we were human, even in striving for purpose, for meaning. Striving is just what explorers do, to cross that next mountain, to ford that next river.

I’m as much for living in the present moment as any meditation advocate, and I’m a “being” person as much as a “doing” person, so I like constantly working on things, then moving on to the next project. It gives me satisfaction, as much as mindfulness practices can at times.

It contributes to meaning. It grounds me in the present, and in the enjoyment of the moment, as I make the most effective use of the time I have in this brief, precious life in an ever-changing universe.

So who cares if it’s only transitory? Even meditative states, perhaps caught up in oneness with the universe, or something else of that sort, are only transitory.

Everything is transitory, and nothing lasts, even being ever in the present, even being in the moment.

So I prefer to spend some of my waking hours in sometimes intense activity, others in relaxation, still others in routine activities that take little exertion. There’s mindfulness practice involved as well, and walks. Long walks on sunlit days.

That’s how I roll.

Tf.Tk.Tts.

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xkcd: Famous Duos

The Call’s Gnuz & Lynx Roundup | The Rani of Stars


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G’day! I’ve finally finished  the image I’ve been working on, The Rani of Stars, and I’ve posted it below. May you all have a glorious Sunday and a happy week. I’ll try to do likewise, and of course for the cats.

It’s a cold and blustery winter here!

Tf.Tk.Tts.

Rani_Of_Stars 1

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Why Does Fallout’s Nuka-Cola Quantum Glow Blue? (Because Science!)

The Call’s Gnuz & Lynx Roundup | 2015.08.30


This is the image of a consonant in Tamil alph...

This is the image of a consonant in Tamil alphabet generated by User:Sundar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

G’day, and happy Sunday. I’m currently engaged in deepening the level of detail for last weeks’s post on planet Bruticus, with a crunch-piece behind the actual science behind the natives’ biological spacecraft, thanks to commentators Anneliese and Ray – You’re both a huge help with this!

This week will also see the release of the concluding narrative for the #Tamil pure consonants. This one includes the remaining basic letters and their sounds, the laterals, fricatives, glides, and Grantha letters for those sounds borrowed from Sanskrit, and a Lovecraftian rather than silly theme for the mnemonic story is not out of the question.

It will conclude my study for this month, after which I switch learning time to #Hindi, focusing more on vocabulary and grammar, as well as spoken and written practice.

So, as always, be safe, well, and brilliant as the stars. You peeps are awesome.

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“Earth Angel” – No God But Funny contest winner

The Call’s Gnuz & Lynx Roundup | 2015.08.23


The symbol Om in the Tamil script

The symbol Om in the Tamil script (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

G’day, and happy Sunday! I’ve only a week left for Tamil study, but that’s cool, as I’m making some progress learning more of the sounds and script. I’ve got a few more left to go, and to get a bit more practice with the dependent vowel signs that join with consonants to make syllables, quite different from those used in Bengali or Hindi scripts.

I’ve completed a draft for the mnemonic story to be used for two classes of consonants, the stop and nasal sounds, and there shall be much proofing and editing before it is ready this next Monday morning, but ready it shall be. I’ll be updating the last installment of Lost in Translation on Tamil vowel mnemonics to offer some rationale for why the narrative was written and as oddly put as it was.

I’ve been listening to Tamil online radio, and so getting a feel for the spoken form in speech and song. Revising from previous study of Hindi and Bengali has turned out well, and it seems the learning of both scripts and their characteristic sounds is fairly solid. Save for some consonant conjuncts, I can read a fair amount of either language, and to the extent of my still-limited vocabulary, understand what’s written. I must be careful though, as I’m still a rank novice, and overconfidence is a very, very Bad Thing™.

I’ve good things planned for this week, including a new piece on the mythical Super Earth planet Bruticus, for an installment of Future Fluff, the Mighty Planet and its Unhallowed Moons as they figure in Kai’Siri legend and in the Gods of Terra setting’s “fact.” I’ve also started work on the draft for a filk-song tribute to Enya‘s “Trains and Winter Rains,” which will involve such wholesomely fun things as brains in vats, intelligent fungi, and the planet Yuggoth (Pluto), as described in the H.P. Lovecraft story “The Whisperer in Darkness.”

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Mister Deity and the Sting